Digitization, cloud tooling, and fluctuating customers are a steady source of change for organizations. To keep up with these external influences, businesses will reorganize, restructure, and reinvent themselves, with ramifications felt throughout the entire organization (e.g., new work methodologies, tool adoptions, branches being dissolved, mergers). 

While change can be positive, it does impact your personnel and their relevance to your organization. As your business changes, so do roles and skills requirements, which can leave people ill-equipped to adapt to new expectations and tools. As a result, 87% of companies say they have skills gaps now or expect to within five years. 

However, introducing upskilling and reskilling programs into your organization helps prevent these gaps, improves job satisfaction, and, in turn, reduces employee turnover. Read on to discover more about why building skills is so influential to a business’s employee churn.

Horizontal career tracks

Depending on the change, skills inside your business may become irrelevant. This is more common when you adopt new technologies (e.g., switching your ERP to one your existing ERP managers are unfamiliar with). However, it also holds true when you change aspects of a role, such as if you flatten the organization and remove several levels of management, or a business merger occurs and you suddenly have two teams performing the same duties. 

Even with outdated skills though, employees can still contribute to your organization. Rather than letting them go and hiring someone who possesses the new skills needed (which is time-consuming and costly), more often than not, a better solution is to train your existing workforce in the relevant skill set

Creating upskilling programs and horizontal career tracks gives people the opportunity to learn new abilities to stay in the organization. Horizontal career growth can also help people who are bored or lacking challenges move to new, more engaging roles within the organization. 

A horizontal growth track could look like someone from marketing receiving coaching and training from the sales department so they can move into sales. Or, a Ruby on Rails developer could take C# classes sponsored by the organization and take on a coding role. With so many possibilities, this strategy will pay dividends to your business in both the short and long term. 

Remediating skills gaps

Skills gaps occur when you change part of a role, but the primary function remains; for example, changing the role of your marketing team to require that everyone have basic graphic design skills, or you add coaching and team development to your team leads’ responsibilities. However, skills gaps can be even more glaring. If you switch code languages, for instance, your python developers may find themselves completely irrelevant, and you’ll quickly notice big holes in your operations.

Often, these skills gaps occur over time and may go unnoticed by management and HR. However, they can lead to decreased morale as people struggle to perform their jobs. If left unchecked, it may even mean letting people go because they no longer meet the skills requirements for their jobs. Rather than suffering that tragedy, introduce upskilling and re-skilling into your organization to remediate skills gaps and keep your people

Understanding and tracking skills and skills gaps 

To remediate skills gaps and introduce reskilling, you must develop an understanding of what skills are required and for which roles. For example, an assessment could use industry benchmarks (what’s normally required for X role), technology (what skills are required to operate X technology in role), and responsibilities (what skills are required to perform X responsibilities in role) to map out hard and soft skill requirements for each position in the organization. This may require you to create a role matrix first, as you may not have consistent naming or roles across the organization. 

Once you have a skills matrix, you can run skills assessments to see what skills people currently possess. These may involve a combination of skills tests to measure an employee’s level of competency and skill quality based on predefined skill sets. They can also be behavioral, with assignments and interviews. Ask people how they rate their skills and if they feel equipped for their role. 

You can also use predictive analytics to anticipate where skills gaps will occur based on factors like changing leadership styles, rate of employee turnover, the amount of in-house knowledge in your company, frequency of technology change, and significant, planned fluctuations. 

Digital learning and workshops vs. coaching and mentoring 

Learning and development programs often have to choose between digital learning, workshops, coaching, and mentoring. All four have their place, and a robust program ideally has deploys all of them in different ways. 

Digital learning portals

These deliver on-demand learning and are great for teaching theory for hard and soft skills, computer skills, and academic knowledge. For example, a digital learning portal could teach employees how to use software and tools, hard skills like graphic design, time management, project management, and more. Of course, many of these will also require following up with practical application and tests. 


Workshops are ideal for introducing skills that require a small amount of theoretical knowledge. They’re formatted as a facilitator-led class with hands-on training. Common subjects include technical use of software, soft skills like time management, specific communication skills, and emotional intelligence, to name a few. Workshops introduce the core of a concept and often some degree of practical application, after which people are usually left to implement it on their own. 

Coaching and mentoring

Coaching and mentoring spread existing skills in the organization to new people. That may involve assigning people to new teams, where they spend a small portion of their time learning new skills. If you identify individuals with certain skills gaps, you could bring in outside coaching or mentoring to impart that knowledge. Conversely, someone who’s strong in a given skill set can coach those who aren’t. 

The key aspect is that you have a system in place to introduce new skills. That often means providing digital learning, workshops, and external coaching opportunities. You also want to ensure you can disperse existing skills throughout the organization, which you can achieve by diversifying experiences in your company and through coaching and mentoring. Both add value in different ways. 


To stay relevant, change is necessary. Businesses often pursue change to ensure they keep up with fluctuating trends and consumer preferences. However, doing so can sideline or even outmode your employees if alterations happen too quickly and you fail to provide remediation. Offering your workforce opportunities for training and skill development ensures they’ll stay relevant in your organization, which will help you retain your personnel. Whether you give people with obsolete skills the opportunity to learn new ones and move into a different role or introduce skills needed for their current position, professional development is a major advantage for both your business and your employees. 

About the Author: Jocelyn Pick